Charles Gaines

Charles GainesArtist’s Statement

Before 1990, my work investigated the role systems played in the construction of forms and objects. I used numerical systems of progression as a way to form strategies of change where change itself was determined by the rules of the system, or I used numbers to form plotting systems that allowed me to sequence objects (mostly natural objects).

Since 1995, my interest moved from the use of systems and numbers to language itself.   I foregrounded two critical concepts: the postmodern sublime and metonymy. I made works that combined drawn or photographic images and/or text in provocative ways to imply or insinuate connections between them, forming a metonymic chain. For example, in String Theory: Rewriting Fanon (2010), I radically changed the sequence of words from Franz Fanon’s Black Skin White Masks. The resulting arbitrary word sequence required the viewer to form metonymic conflations in order to realize meaning from sentences that were not formed with the intention to express specific ideas.


Select Solo Exhibitions from 2007-2011

One person exhibition, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Project

Explosions, Susanne Vielmetter Berlin Projects
Manifestos, Kent Gallery, New York

Greenhouse, LAXART, Los Angeles
La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy, curated by Robert Storr
Charles Gaines: A Selection of Works, Brigitte March Gallery, Stuttgart, Germany

Select Group Exhibitions

All Of This and Nothing, UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
CALIFORNIA über alles / ART in the Age of Pluralism: 1974-1981, Paul Schimmel, curator, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Dance / Draw, Curator: Helen Molesworth, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960 – 1980, Curator: Prof. Kellie Jones, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles
Human Nature, Curator: Franklin Sirmans, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles

Select Community-Based Artwork

Snake River, an exhibition and a film collaboration with Edgar Arceneaux with music by Anton Brückner and Sean Griffin, curated by Stella Rollig and Clara Kim, Lentos Kunstmuseum, Linz, Austria, and at REDCAT Gallery, Los Angeles

Fellowships and Awards

Norton Family Foundation Grant (Venice Biennale)
United States Artists Fellowship


M.F.A., 1967
Rochester Institute of Technology, School of Art and Design

B.A., 1966
Jersey City State College